World Masters Games 2017 | Empowering Women to Exercise
How fitness helps women develop a strong sense of self
“Sport and fitness offers much more than a workout. I feel empowered when I'm active and want others to have this experience as well. It's health but it’s also wellness”.
Sarah Cowley-Ross -- Olympic track and field athlete, physiotherapist, mum and all-round kiwi girl -- shared this with us in the final weeks leading up to the 2017 World Master’s Games in Auckland. She’s been training hard in hopes of winning the triple jump event for her age group.
Yet, it’s not just about winning. As a new mother, she’s had to become much more creative about organising her training time. For Sarah, competition is about remaining active and setting goals. It’s about having fun! It’s also about using her story to inspire women to keep active and to schedule time for themselves, even when there’s heaps going on.
“I'm a better person when I'm active and I know many others who share the same sense of energy from exercise”.
Life is about learning through experience, and Sarah reveals three essential lessons she’s learned through sports and fitness:
1) Create balance between body & mind
“Prioritising fitness and sport has enabled me to feel strong in my own body. I know I can do things that others can't. For example, dodge a car if I had to or even lift a heavy weight, which, I guess, makes me feel good in my own skin”.
Generally speaking, our population is becoming less active, consuming a diet rich with processed/packaged foods and sugars, which is having negative impacts on overall health across New Zealand. Remaining active keeps our bodies healthy and helps us develop agility useful in other situations.
However, being more active isn’t just about the physical side of things. The mental benefits are also incredible. After 15 years of participating in competitive sports, Sarah is certain that working out helps her be the best possible version of herself.
“Sport gives women confidence and a strong sense of resilience. I've seen this in myself and many others -- not just athletes but weekend warriors and even my own Mum and her friends.”
While there may be quite a bit happening in your life, you can power through more than you think by taking time out for exercise.
Science has boasted the mental benefits of activity for many years now. We know it helps with feeling positive and determined even when things aren’t going to plan.
Get through the highs -- and the lows -- by maintaining your activity level.
2) Embrace new experiences & lessons
“Through sport I've had some incredible opportunities -- to travel the world, to make lasting friendships and to make pretty awesome memories along the way.”
For Sarah, participating in international competitions paved the way to new places, people and experiences. Pursuing her dream also brought many important life lessons.
The first of many lessons: hard work and goal setting will help you achieve your dreams. Next: you’ll find you’re not always at the winners podium, so work out how you’ll learn from losses and how you’ll move on.
In terms of your training: maybe you want to be able to complete 20 press ups -- though completing just one is a struggle. Create a plan to get there by using other exercises to strengthen the muscles you need, or adjust your press up position so it feels easier to maintain form as you build up your repetitions.
It might take you three months instead of an optimistic three weeks to reach your goal, but keep at it! Keep in mind: you can apply these lessons to any goal in life.
3) Tackle life’s unexpected challenges
“Challenges through fitness and sport help develop a strong mind set. It's developing a belief that you matter, your health matters and you have the power to make changes. It's incredibly inspiring stuff no matter what your goal or journey is.”
Knowing that you can make decisions or rearrange your schedule to ensure you prioritise what’s important for your well-being is important. These skills build confidence and help you sort out unexpected hiccups -- you manage your day, not the other way around.
“Some of the situations I've had to deal with through sport were really tough. Setbacks through injury, missing qualifying standards year after year despite slogging my guts out -- all opportunities for my own growth.”
In life, there are bigger challenges, but facing them head on and using smaller goals to move forward is a lesson many athletes learn at some stage in their career. It’s a great lesson for anyone.
“Every situation created a steely determination in me that transfers over to all areas of my life”, says Sarah. “My greatest success was having a spike of improvement in the later stages of my career after 5 years of no improvement”.
Go forward and conquer
While everyone has different abilities and feelings towards exercise, there are many activities out there that are fun and count toward getting enough beneficial daily activity.
“As a nation we need to make it a priority for the health of our people and the generations to come.”
No matter what Sarah accomplishes during the World Master’s Games, she hopes to inspire others to get out there and move.
“Believe that you can do it,” she says. “Then create a realistic plan to get yourself there”.
More about the World Master’s Games
The 9th World Master’s Games runs from April 21-30 with 10,000 Kiwi competitors ready to give it their all.
Master competitors, including athletes from 100 different countries, have gathered in Auckland to participate in 28 different sports and 45 disciplines during the 10-day event.
Since 1985, the World Master’s Games have been held every four years. Like the Olympics, the Master’s Games encourages “sport for all”. The aim is to foster friendship and understanding while encouraging competition between athletes of various age, gender, race and religion.
This global event has been held in other cities over the years, including Toronto and Sydney.
However, participating athletes always represent themselves or their teams not their countries.
For more information and event day results, please visit here.
Want more from your training?
Sarah wears ASICS clothing every time she trains -- and has been for years.
For her, ASICS delivers the ultimate comfort, performance and fit. What’s more, she loves the styling options now available in our 2017 women’s sportswear range.